Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the forty days of Lent.
Christians have been preparing for the celebration of Easter by walking through a “Holy Lent” since ancient times. This is patterned after Jesus temptation in the wilderness.
Lent is a season of repentance, fasting, and self-reflection. Of course, all of this happens with the sure knowledge of God’s love and grace to us through Christ. Lent and Ash Wednesday are in no way about condemnation. They are a time in which human beings, given a pronouncement of forgiveness and absolution through Christ, can be honest with God, with ourselves, and with each other. With the terror of judgment removed, we can speak the truth.
Ash Wednesday is the day in which Christians gather to receive the imposition of ashes. Ashes on the head have signified repentance from biblical times. Job said, “I repent in dust and ashes.”
Ashes also represent mourning, as Tamar in the Old Testament used them to mourn her abuse which was not in any way her fault, but which devastated her.
The Ashes we use are the result of burning last year’s Palm Crosses. This burning in our own lives is from our own sins and follies and from the abuse of others, and ashes represent both. They remind us that we are living in this mortal world, this fallen world, and that we are made from dust, when all else is burned away. We are mortal and will return to our maker.
Christians believe, rightly, that God is good and that he loves us. We believe that through the death and resurrection of Christ we can be forgiven and “boldly go before the throne of grace.” We know that even though we don’t understand exactly how God will make the wrongs of the world right, he will.
And yet we live in a time in which all of those promises are not yet fulfilled. We feel the pain of sin and brokenness. Ash Wednesday and Lent remind us that we still live in this fallen world, and that we are a part of that fallenness. No one is free of sin. It gives us permission, in fact it calls us, to acknowledge the reality we see within ourselves, and around us.
Will you join us at the Church door on Ash Wednesday for the Imposition of Ashes as an act of witness to the local community.
10:45AM until 11:15AM at Holy Trinity Church in Ramsgate.
1:00PM – 1:30PM at St Andrew’s in Deal.
Live streamed Ash Wednesday Sung Mass at 6:00PM for Holy Trinity Ramsgate and St Andrew’s Deal.